Mestre Mariano Silva, a dancer and student of the Brazilian martial art capoeira, has always believed that "if you can walk, then you can dance." This positivity permeates everything he does, from his work with underprivileged youth to his time professionally dancing. It was this contagious optimism that caught the attention of master Amen Santo in Brazil, who invited him to tour globally with the renowned Ballet Folclorico do Brasil. As it turned out, Mariano was a huge hit, playing to sold-out crowds all over the world. His skill and popularity on the stage led Amen to convince him to relocate to Southern California and bring his passion for Afro-Brazilian dance to the States. Today, Mariano owns Capoeira Batuque Santa Barbara along with the Brazilian Cultural Arts Center of Santa Barbara, sharing his talents and affirmative worldview with adults and children through a slew of classes and community-outreach programs.
Each of mestre Mariano's fast-paced classes introduces pupils to the rhythmic techniques and cultural significance of traditional Afro-Brazilian dance forms. Capoeira—considered Brazil's second national sport—fuses martial-arts techniques with the rhythmic and collaborative elements of dance. He teaches stylistic combat maneuvers, which weave in aerial acrobatics and various instruments. During his Afro-Brazilian dance class, he'll calibrate students' hips to swivel to movements that fuse traditional African dance with Brazilian moves, and in his Samba classes, he introduces students to the history, culture, and traditions inextricably linked to each movement. He also lets dancers try their hand or fourth toe at banging timbaus, repiniques, and other Brazilian drums in the Brazilian batucada drumming course.
Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with an instructor as the teachers assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
The instructors at Santa Barbara Festival Ballet have honed their teaching skills just as much as their dancing ones. All of them have been extensively trained in tutoring dance, and they coach their students using the renowned Cecchetti Method?a syllabus that progresses from fundamentals to professional-level techniques. The school welcomes dancers of all ages to learn from their practiced staff.
Many performers are already triple threats—experts in acting, singing, and dancing—but Emma Ridley decided to add one more line to her repertoire: fitness. At her alternative health studio, Goddess Fitness Dance, Emma and her instructors eschew the monotonous exercise regimens and carnivorous treadmills of traditional gyms, instead focusing on fun, flirty exercises such as sultry pole-dancing routines and belly-dancing classes—all infused with Emma’s passion for entertainment.
Though all the workouts still subscribe to the concept of repetitions in order to burn fat, Goddess Fitness Dance infuses each workout with an added element of fun. Studio classes teach specific moves that, with practice, can lend grace and allure to students’ dance routines, and the driving force behind every drill is always laughter, not grunts. "You don't need to be a pro to see the results," Emma remarks. "As long as you're moving, you're doing it right!"
At House of Dance, a 3,200-square-foot floating dance floor, a professional sound system, and lights combine to create an entertaining dance ambience. Experienced instructors ensure that the clean, safe ballroom is a great place for guests to move and groove while burning calories along the way. Zumba fitness classes blend Latin and international dance moves with the music of salsa, merengue, and more to bring the best beats to the cardiovascular party, allowing singles to salsa their way into new friendships, couples to add cha-cha to their relationships, and seniors to release their inner break dancer before it smashes another vase. Click here to view the class schedule.
Cosmotion fusion fitness system integrates martial arts, healing movement, and dance into high-energy cardio classes. Each session builds a unique pattern of 52 basic moves to cultivate core strength, while improving flexibility and stamina. The studio also offers a full schedule of dance-centric workouts, which range from Bollywood-fusion and belly dancing, to hokey pokey workouts performed in full suits of armor.